New rules and missing heavyweights mean no sure bets
As Primetime Emmy Awards nomination decisions begin to take shape and network promotion machines start kicking into high gear, the actors and actresses who annually compete for these prestigious statuettes can hardly accuse the Television Academy of failing to heed calls for change -- in both the nominee lists and the voting procedures. In fact, tweaks to the rules have become as much a part of the process as assessing the merits of the countless DVD screeners that descend upon Television Academy members this time of year.
The oft-stated goal is to shake up the acting categories with a steady stream of fresh faces amid the nominated. How well that process worked in 2006 is surely open to interpretation. There were shake-ups aplenty, along with numerous decisions that still seem odd and inconsistent nearly a year later. Meanwhile, the intended goal in attaching a second round of voting to the nomination process -- that is, to honor shows and individuals on networks that rarely are recognized, such as the CW and Sci Fi Channel -- didn't work.
So, what to do in 2007? Well, the Television Academy, believing the two-tier judging process to be flawed but workable, has made a few adjustments that it hopes will continue to add some diversity to the lead and supporting series acting lists, in particular, while at the same time preventing 11-second performances from being recognized.
At the same time, the evolution of the Emmy playing field itself makes a certain amount of change not only desirable but, indeed, inevitable. Out of the running for the first time after their cancellations are the much-honored acting troupes of NBC's "Will & Grace" and "The West Wing," as well as of Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Arrested Development." HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" isn't eligible, and its HBO sister dramas "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood" are enjoying their last hurrahs this year.
Ready to step in and fill the void are the casts of such buzzed-about newcomers as ABC's comedy "Ugly Betty" and drama |"Brothers & Sisters," NBC's comedy "30 Rock" and dramas "Heroes" and "Friday Night Lights," Showtime's period drama "The Tudors" and the FX Network hour "The Riches." Speaking of cable, it seems due for a significant acting category nomination blitz in the wake of the lead acting noms last year for Denis Leary (FX's "Rescue Me") and Kyra Sedgwick (TNT's "The Closer") and the annual lead comedy category ownership of Tony Shalhoub (for USA Network's "Monk").
Will sanity be restored to the acting category nomination process via an improved, more inclusive collection of honored performers? Hope springs eternal, to be sure. And one time it's really going to happen, just you wait and see. Possibly even this time.
Following are a category-by-category evaluation and handicapping of the 12 prominent acting races in this year's Primetime Emmy nominations, set to be announced July 19.
Lead Actor/Comedy Series
Favorites: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" (NBC); Steve Carell, "The Office" (NBC); Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" (USA Network); Jason Lee, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC); Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS); Kevin James, "The King of Queens" (CBS)
The Next Tier: Zach Braff, "Scrubs" (NBC); Ricky Gervais, "Extras" (HBO); Brad Garrett, "'Til Death" (Fox); Patrick Warburton, "Rules of Engagement" (CBS); Andy Richter, "Andy Barker, P.I." (NBC); George Lopez, "The George Lopez Show" (ABC); James Roday, "Psych" (USA)
OK, we get it. You members of the Television Academy like Shalhoub. You really like him. This is why the guy has won three Emmys in the past four years (including in 2006) for "Monk." Take the above choices with a grain of salt, because I'm the guy who noted last year that Carell couldn't lose and that his chief competition would come from Lee (who was not, in fact, nominated). Shalhoub has to be seen as the man to beat until somebody beats him, though last year's triumph was wholly unexpected -- even by "Monk" executive producer Andy Breckman. "I totally didn't see that coming," he admits. "But Shalhoub is such a mensch that I was thrilled for him, and as his producer I'd better say he deserved it. So I will."
All of that said, it's difficult to find anyone betting against Baldwin to repeat his Golden Globe triumph from January, and those that don't see him winning pin it on the embarrassment caused by this spring's very public phone message to his daughter rather than lack of merit. He, Shalhoub and Carell figure to be nomination locks, with James and Sheen strong contenders at repeating their noms from last year, with Lee, Braff and Gervais also given good shots at cracking the list. Three-time supporting comedy victor Garrett also can't be ruled out as a potential sleeper for a nomination.
Of last year's nominees, only "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David is ineligible because of a lack of episodes during the Emmy-qualifying period.
Lead Actress/Comedy Series
Favorites: America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" (ABC); Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS); Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" (Showtime); Tina Fey, "30 Rock" (NBC); Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC); Anne Heche, "Men in Trees" (ABC)
The Next Tier: Tichina Arnold, "Everybody Hates Chris" (The CW); Marcia Cross, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC); Sarah Silverman, "The Sarah Silverman Program" (Comedy Central); Leah Remini, "The King of Queens" (CBS); Teri Hatcher, "Desperate Housewives"; Joely Fisher, "'Til Death" (Fox); Eva Longoria, "Desperate Housewives"
Talk about a category undergoing a complete revamp. Of the five lead comedy actress nominees a year ago, only Louis-Dreyfus is eligible to repeat. Of course, she also won for "Christine," and while she is pretty much a shoo-in to be nominated again, she won't be anything close to the favorite. That would be Ferrera, the Globe winner earlier this year for "Betty" in a performance that was heavily buzzed about throughout the 2006-07 season.
Also looking to break through are Parker -- snubbed in something of a shocker last year for "Weeds" -- Fey and Heche, with Huffman, Cross and possibly Longoria looking to bounce back after being excluded from the list in 2006. Also given an outside chance are Arnold and Silverman, though their candidacies are hampered by the relative obscurity of the networks (the CW and Comedy Central, respectively) that air their shows. Were Arnold to earn a nom, she would be the first black actress to be honored in the category since Phylicia Rashad was cited for "The Cosby Show" in 1986. Remini will be bidding for her first nomination in the final season of "King of Queens," though it's seen as a long shot at best.
Showtime president Robert Greenblatt admits to having been "dumbfounded" when Parker failed to earn a nomination last year, adding: "It just never occurred to me she might not be recognized because she's so amazingly good. Please don't let it happen again."
Supporting Actor/Comedy Series
Favorites: Rainn Wilson, "The Office" (NBC); John Krasinski, "The Office"; Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" (HBO); Kevin Dillon, "Entourage"; Michael Urie, "Ugly Betty" (ABC); Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)
The Next Tier: Ed Helms, "The Office"; Kevin Nealon, "Weeds" (Showtime); Ethan Suplee, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC); Justin Kirk, "Weeds"; John C. McGinley, "Scrubs" (NBC); Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS); David Spade, "Rules of Engagement" (CBS)
Three of last year's category nominees -- including Will Arnett ("Arrested Development"), Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") and Sean Hayes ("Will & Grace") -- are out of the running this time. The two that remain in contention include winner Piven and Cryer, who was so thrilled at earning his first Emmy nomination (for "Two and a Half Men") that he forgot he was supposed to care about winning. "Between the time of the nomination and the inevitable loss, I had the time of my life," Cryer recalls. "It was like I was finally on the radar. People wanted me to do commercials for them suddenly. But now that I've tasted it, I want more. I will not be denied. Nothing less than victory will do now."
That might be asking too much. Piven could repeat, though a likelier bet is one of the two primary candidates from "The Office," Wilson or Krasinski (probably the former, a rising star). Notes "Office" executive producer Greg Daniels: "On any other show, Rainn or John would be giant leads. They're that good. But please don't ask me to choose between them."
Piven's "Entourage" castmate Dillon also could land a nom, as might the talented Harris for "How I Met Your Mother." And "Betty's" Urie figures to have a solid shot at cracking the list, though this is a highly competitive category that also features the perpetually overlooked McGinley and Suplee, as well as "Weeds" standouts Nealon and Kirk.
Supporting Actress/Comedy Series
Favorites: Jenna Fischer, "The Office" (NBC); Jaime Pressly, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC); Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds" (Showtime); Sarah Chalke, "Scrubs" (NBC); Ana Ortiz, "Ugly Betty" (ABC); Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock" (NBC)
The Next Tier: Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS); Nicollette Sheridan, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC); Becki Newton, "Ugly Betty"; Cobie Smulders, "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS); Conchata Ferrell, "Two and a Half Men"; Judy Reyes, "Scrubs"; Rachael Harris, "Notes From the Underbelly" (ABC)
Once again, this is a category where a majority of the nominees from a year ago aren't eligible to pay a repeat visit this time. Those include 2006 winner Megan Mullally for "Will & Grace" as well as Alfre Woodard for "Desperate Housewives" and Cheryl Hines for "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The potential category repeats are Golden Globe nominee Perkins and Pressly, and it would surely be a surprise if either were passed over. But this could well be Fischer's year. She failed to earn a nom a year ago for "The Office," and that snub is expected to be rectified this time. For her part, Fischer offers, "I'd love to be nominated for playing Pam because I so desperately love this girl. It's an honor bringing her to life, and this past season, I feel like the writers were kind and loving to the character. They gave her a real story arc that was exciting."
Likewise gunning for Emmy attention in the category are "Betty" standouts Ortiz and Newton, Krakowski for "30 Rock" and Chalke and Reyes for "Scrubs," as well as 2005 nominees Taylor and Ferrell for "Two and a Half Men" and 2005 Globe nominee Sheridan for "Housewives." Also vying for nomination attention from "The Office" are Angela Kinsey and Melora Hardin.
Lead Actor/Drama Series
Favorites: Hugh Laurie, "House" (Fox); James Gandolfini, "The Sopranos" (HBO); Kiefer Sutherland, "24" (Fox); Denis Leary, "Rescue Me" (FX Network); Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" (Showtime); James Woods, "Shark" (CBS)
The Next Tier: James Spader, "Boston Legal" (ABC); Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC); Eddie Izzard, "The Riches" (FX); Michael Chiklis, "The Shield" (FX); Jonathan Rhys Meyers, "The Tudors" (Showtime); Ian McShane, "Deadwood" (HBO); Christopher Meloni, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC); David Boreanaz, "Bones" (Fox)
Last year's list in this category might well have been the strangest configuration of nominees to grace an Emmy acting category in quite some time -- not necessarily because of who was included but because of who wasn't. On the omissions list: Laurie and Gandolfini. Laurie won the Golden Globe this year for "House" (his second Globe overall). Gandolfini has earned three Emmys. What of this year? It's a tough category to handicap, though the aforementioned pair appear to be nomination locks. Beyond that, last year's winner Sutherland also should be recognized -- it would be his sixth straight nom -- despite the perception that "24" imploded this past season. Leary also has to be seen as a favorite to repeat as a nominee, with Hall and Woods looking strong but hardly sure things in a highly competitive field. Spader has won twice in the category, Chiklis once. They might well not even be nominated.
"It was a little strange last year having our show get nominated while Hugh didn't," says "House" co-creator and executive producer David Shore. "We never even thought there was a chance he wouldn't. But that's the nature of this beast. It's a highly subjective process." Woods, a two-time Emmy winner himself, also has to be seen as a favorite to make the nomination lineup, with Izzard, Meyers and McShane in the running and Meloni a dark horse given his surprise nom a year ago for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
Lead Actress/Drama Series
Favorites: Edie Falco, "The Sopranos" (HBO); Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" (TNT); Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC); Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC); Patricia Arquette, "Medium" (NBC); Ellen Pompeo, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
The Next Tier: Calista Flockhart, "Brothers & Sisters"; Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC); Mary McDonnell, "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi Channel); Minnie Driver, "The Riches" (FX Network); Lauren Graham, "Gilmore Girls" (The CW); Polly Walker, "Rome" (HBO); Evangeline Lilly, "Lost" (ABC)
Here we have yet another brutally difficult category to handicap. And again, three of the five nominees from a year ago were honored for series that have since been canceled: Allison Janney ("The West Wing"), Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under") and Geena Davis ("Commander in Chief"). It stands to reason that both eligible actresses nominated last year -- 2007 Globe winner Sedgwick and Emmy winner Hargitay -- will be back. Competing for the three open slots figure to be five-time nominee and three-time category victor Falco, who failed even to land a nomination last year, along with '05 winner Arquette and either Field or Pompeo (a Globe nominee this year). Field has earned two Oscars and two Emmys to date so, yes, we know the academies have her on speed dial. Field's castmate Flockhart, however, a mere three-time Emmy nominee herself, could slip in. And don't discount McDonnell, a respected actress in an acclaimed series. Britton also could surprise, given the critical kudos consistently directed at "Friday Night Lights."
All of that said, this feels like either Falco's or Sedgwick's year. James Duff, creator and executive producer of "The Closer," naturally hopes it falls to Sedgwick. "Kyra is just so amazing in this role," he says. "She's also a genius and a wonderful human being. Shouldn't that be enough for an Emmy?"
You'd think so.
Supporting Actor/Drama Series
Favorites: Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos" (HBO); William Shatner, "Boston Legal" (ABC); Masi Oka, "Heroes" (NBC); Steven Weber, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (NBC); Dominic Monaghan, "Lost" (ABC); Tony Sirico, "The Sopranos"
The Next Tier: T.R. Knight, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC); Jack McGee, "Rescue Me" (FX Network); Oded Fehr, "Sleeper Cell: American Terror" (Showtime); John Stamos, "ER" (NBC); Vincent Curatola, "The Sopranos"; Walton Goggins, "The Shield" (FX); Ron Rifkin, "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC)
It's difficult to fathom that "Heroes" sensation Oka wouldn't be considered a favorite here, but that's probably the case even though his competition includes previous winners Imperioli (who, as Christopher Moltisanti, departed "The Sopranos" memorably in the iconic drama's just-completed final season) and Shatner, who won the previous two years in this category until getting upended in 2006 by Alan Alda for "West Wing." There is no danger of that happening again. As for the nominations, Oka, Imperioli and Shatner all figure to again earn noms along with any of a handful of other contenders, including Weber for the canceled "Studio 60," Monaghan for "Lost" and Sirico or Curatola for "Sopranos."
For his part, Oka can hardly believe he is even on the short list of candidates, despite earning a Golden Globe nom in January. "Knock on wood, this is all just absolutely surreal," he admits. "I'm barely a working actor, then suddenly I'm part of this phenomenon. It's hard to believe it's really happening."
Others vying for a little love from the Television Academy include Knight for "Grey's Anatomy," the underrated McGee from "Rescue Me," the equally underrated Goggins from "The Shield" and Stamos, who calls his supporting role on "ER" "the best job I've ever had."
Supporting Actress/Drama Series
Favorites: Rachel Griffiths, "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC); Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC); Sarah Paulson, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (NBC); Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal" (ABC); CCH Pounder, "The Shield" (FX Network); Robin Weigert, "Deadwood" (HBO)
The Next Tier: Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy"; Amanda Peet, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"; Elizabeth Mitchell, "Lost" (ABC); Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy"; S. Epatha Merkerson, "Law & Order" (NBC); Callie Thorne, "Rescue Me" (FX); Annabeth Gish, "Brotherhood" (Showtime); Lisa Edelstein, "House" (Fox)
Heigl and Paulson both landed supporting nominations at this year's Globes, and Heigl naturally had one of the summer's biggest theatrical hits with her co-starring role in the Universal comedy "Knocked Up." Paulson and fellow "Studio 60" castmate Peet often were cited for doing the finest work of their careers on the failed Aaron Sorkin drama, but only one is likely to crack the nominee list. And that's probably Paulson. But this is a competitive category with many worthy competitors and too few nomination spots, and that crowd includes previous nominees (three-timer Pounder, two-timer Griffith and one-timers Wilson and Weigert) and winners (five-timer Bergen and one-timer Merkerson). Wilson, Oh and Bergen all earned noms a year ago but lost out to Blythe Danner for Showtime's since-canceled "Huff."
Bidding for Emmy breakthroughs are the talented and intense Thorne, Gish and Mitchell, though it would be easy to give this prize every year to Pounder -- who has yet to win for "The Shield" but did earn a nomination in 2005. If any of the three supporting players on "Anatomy" has an inside track for this year's statuette, it's no doubt Heigl. But Griffiths or one of the "Studio 60" women could pull off an upset. And, well, there's always Bergen, who won so often for "Murphy Brown" she felt compelled to remove her name from consideration.
Favorites: Jim Broadbent, "Longford" (HBO); Robert Duvall, "Broken Trail" (AMC); Adam Beach, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (HBO); Jason Isaacs, "The State Within" (BBC America); Matthew Perry, "The Ron Clark Story" (TNT); Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Tsunami, the Aftermath" (HBO)
The Next Tier: Peter Krause, "The Lost Room" (Sci Fi Channel); Toby Stephens, "Masterpiece Theatre -- Jane Eyre" (PBS); Robbie Coltrane, "Cracker: A New Terror" (BBC America); Jonan Everett, "Angel Rodriguez" (HBO); Wendell Pierce, "Life Support" (HBO); Tom Selleck, "Jesse Stone: Sea Change" (CBS); William H. Macy, "Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King" (TNT)
A couple of Oscar winners are bidding at the top of this particular list: Broadbent (who took the supporting actor Academy Award in 2002 for "Iris") and six-time Oscar nominee Duvall (a winner for lead actor in 1984 for "Tender Mercies"). Broadbent is terrific in the exceptional "Longford," but then so is Duvall in the AMC two-part Western "Broken Trail." Both are certain to get nominated, but you'll have to flip a coin to determine who'll take the statuette. An interesting side note, however, is that Duvall has walked away winless for each of his three Emmy noms. The category also figures to include noms for Beach, Isaacs' riveting work, Perry and either Ejiofor, Krause, Stephens or Coltrane. In truth, Isaacs might have turned in the best performance of them all, but it's hard to imagine a lead in a BBC America miniseries winning. It isn't the way the Television Academy typically votes.
Also superb was newcomer Jonan Everett in HBO's "Angel Rodriguez," but he's probably a long shot to slip onto the list. A better bet might be the steady Selleck. But in a nifty bit of irony, he could be penalized for being in a project that aired on a broadcast network. The Emmy times, they are a-changin', indeed.
Favorites: Helen Mirren, "Masterpiece Theatre -- Prime Suspect: The Final Act" (PBS); Queen Latifah, "Life Support" (HBO); Sarah Chalke, "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy" (Lifetime); Sophie Okonedo, "Tsunami, the Aftermath" (HBO); Ruth Wilson, "Masterpiece Theatre -- Jane Eyre" (PBS); Debra Messing, "The Starter Wife" (USA Network)
The Next Tier: Mercedes Ruehl, "A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story" (Lifetime); Julianna Margulies, "The Lost Room" (Sci Fi Channel); Gena Rowlands, "What If God Were the Sun?" (Lifetime); Kim Basinger, "The Mermaid Chair" (Lifetime); Alicia Silverstone, "Candles on Bay Street" (CBS); Melissa Gilbert, "Sacrifices of the Heart" (Hallmark Channel); Lacey Chabert, "What If God Were the Sun?" (Lifetime)
You know it, I know it, the Television Academy knows it, and deep down inside, even she knows it: Helen Mirren can't lose these days. In fact, one critic friend of mine suggested that he believes an edict of some sort is now in place that prohibits her from failing to win a trophy during any nationally televised award ceremony. This is as close to a done deal as the Emmys ever is likely to get, with Mirren's work in the final "Prime Suspect" almost certainly earning her a 10th Emmy nomination and fourth win. (She also won in the category in 2006 for "Elizabeth I," which earned her a Globe in January as well.)
The other nominees? That group is likely to feature Latifah for the much-praised "Life Support," Chalke for her "Mastectomy" film, Wilson for "Jane Eyre" (the voters love those "Masterpiece Theatre" projects) and Messing -- a five-time Emmy nominee and winner in 2003 for "Will & Grace" -- for USA's "Starter Wife." There are a couple of Oscar winners also in contention, namely Ruehl and Basinger, with six-time Emmy nominee (and three-time winner) Rowlands likewise in the running for her Lifetime project "What If God Were the Sun?" But again, the Mirren freight train is unlikely to be derailed here.
Favorites: Thomas Haden Church, "Broken Trail" (AMC); Aidan Quinn, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (HBO); Joe Mantegna, "The Starter Wife" (USA Network); Andy Serkis, "Longford" (HBO); August Schellenberg, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (HBO); Hugh Bonneville, "Tsunami, the Aftermath" (HBO)
The Next Tier: William Devane, "Jesse Stone: Sea Change" (CBS); Andrew Buchan, "Masterpiece Theatre -- Jane Eyre" (PBS); Edward Asner, "The Christmas Card" (Hallmark Channel); Bruce Greenwood, "The Mermaid Chair" (Lifetime); Ernie Hudson, "The Ron Clark Story" (TNT); Bob Newhart, "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines" (TNT); Kevin Pollak, "The Lost Room" (Sci Fi Channel)
After having scored 2005 Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his work in "Sideways," Church looks to be a favorite for not only an Emmy nomination but perhaps even a win for AMC's "Broken Trail" -- which already earned him a Globe nom earlier this year. A project from American Movie Classics winning Emmys? Very likely. Deal with it. Not that Church won't be surrounded by some standout performers, including Quinn and Schellenberg (as the legendary Sitting Bull) in "Wounded Knee," Mantegna as a charming but troubled Hollywood mogul in "Starter Wife," "The Lord of the Rings" legend Serkis (who portrayed Gollum in the 2001-03 film trilogy) for "Longford" and Bonneville for HBO's tsunami miniseries project. Veterans Devane, Asner and Newhart are strong contenders for nomination as well.
Favorites: Samantha Morton, "Longford" (HBO); Anna Paquin, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (HBO); Sharon Gless, "The State Within" (BBC America); Francesca Annis, "Masterpiece Theatre -- Jane Eyre" (PBS); Greta Scacchi, "Broken Trail" (AMC); Rachel Griffiths, "Angel Rodriguez" (HBO)
The Next Tier: Laura Greenwood, "Prime Suspect: The Final Act" (PBS); Toni Collette, "Tsunami, the Aftermath" (HBO); Amy Madigan, "The Path to 9/11" (ABC); Anna Deavere Smith, "Life Support" (HBO); Patti LaBelle, "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy" (Lifetime); Illeana Douglas, "Not Like Everyone Else" (Lifetime); Lindsay Duncan, "Longford"
It might be tough to beat Morton here for her stellar work as the notorious British serial killer Myra Hindley in "Longford." But it will be no cakewalk. Also contending are Paquin (a 1994 Oscar winner for "The Piano"), previous Emmy winner Scacchi for "Broken Trail" and Gless, an eight-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner (in the 1980s for "Cagney & Lacey") who turns in brilliant work in the BBC America mini "The State Within." Griffiths also was particularly strong in "Angel Rodriguez." Even LaBelle has a shot at an Emmy nom (it would be her third) for Lifetime's "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy," as does Oscar nominee Collette, already honored with a Globe nomination for her performance in "Tsunami, the Aftermath." And Madigan was a standout in ABC's divisive Sept. 11 mini.